By Arthur Santanan, The Washington Post
The World War II Memorial faces yet another hurdle. The D.C. Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals yesterday told groups that oppose building the memorial on the Mall that a three-judge panel next week will consider their request to halt construction.
Memorial advocates say they will move ahead with plans to begin work Monday. The court move will not affect them, they say, because the site will only be surveyed next week.
A federal judge last week dismissed a suit to halt construction, but Andrea C. Ferster, an attorney for the opponents, appealed, asking for an injunction prohibiting construction until the appellate court could hear the case.
Attorneys on both sides have asked that the court make a decision on that request by the end of next week, she said. If the judges grant the injunction, construction would wait until the full appellate court could consider the case — which could take more than a year, Ferster said. If they say no to the injunction, construction could begin by late September, said Mike Conley, spokesman for the American Battle Monuments Commission.
The memorial’s general contractor is to be at the site Monday with surveying equipment, Conley said. “The rest of the week, they’ll be doing simple things, like surveying and mapping of utilities,” he said. He said that by the end of next week, fencing and other material may be delivered to the site, although a fence would not be erected until after Labor Day.
Ferster, who represents the National Coalition to Save Our Mall, World War II Veterans to Save the Mall, the Committee of 100 on the Federal City and the D.C. Preservation League, said that if the appeal is rejected, the groups could take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, though they likely would not go that route. The groups say federal agencies and commissions did not follow proper procedures in choosing and approving the memorial site.
The decision last week by U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. didn’t come as a surprise to opponents or federal officials. In June, Kennedy denied a request for a temporary restraining order on awarding a construction contract. The judge ruled that the court no longer had jurisdiction in May after President Bush signed a bill barring further judicial review of the memorial’s location and design.
© 2001 The Washington Post Company